Protestors want Archbishop to give Saint Publius ‘due attention’

Why was Saint Publius omitted from Pauline story? protestors say in placards affixed at the doors of the Archbishop’s Curia...

An association that pays tribute to the Maltese saint Publius has ‘hammered’ its protest to the door of the Archbishop’s Curia in Floriana, calling out Charles Scicluna for omitting the first century bishop from his pastoral letter on an upcoming papal visit.

The association said Publius, who along with Paul of Tarsus is one of the two patron saints of the Maltese islands, had been “conveniently sidelined by the Church authorities… despite several communications and pressure by Assocjazzjoni Publju ta' Malta.”

The association was founded eight years ago to promote the figure of Publius, who according to tradition was the chief of the islands who welcome Paul during his shipwreck on the island on his way to Rome to be tried for proselytising. “Publius is the predecessor of the head of our Nation, the President of the Republic, and the Archbishop of Malta… the association organises cultural, artistic, musical and religious activities in order to keep the memory of Publius alive,” Stephen Camilleri, a spokesperson for the association, said.

The association attached placards with Biblical quotations to the main entrance of the Archbishop’s Curia in Floriana in protest at a pastoral letter which spoke on the passage in the Acts of the Apostles where Paul was welcomed in  Malta, but refrained from mentioning Publius.

“This despite the fact that the Pastoral Letter urged today’s Maltese people to act like ‘our forefathers’ when faced with illegal immigrants. This since in 60AD, Publius had welcomed Paul and his companions who survived the shipwreck. It was in fact Publius, who was Maltese, who welcomed all these 276 people in his own home for three days. Publius could have easily imprisoned all the convicts that were shipwrecked, including St. Paul.  Publius decided otherwise. His humanity impressed Luke and he praised him for his virtues. Thanks to Publius and his personal attributes, the Maltese have shared in his limelight and as a nation we have become known for our generosity and caring nature,” the association said.

“Thanks to Publius therefore, Malta welcomed Paul and it converted to Christianity. Christianity in return has shaped our culture and everything else that belongs to Malta and the Maltese.”

Contemporary historians, such as Professor Godfrey Wettinger, have said there is no physical proof that St Paul ever was in Malta, other than in minor histories from the 11th to the 18th centuries. The island was conquered by the Muslims between 870 and 1091, which raises doubts on whether the faith rooted on St Publius and St Paul is of continuous tradition.

The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 28 verse one does specifically mention Malta in connection with Paul’s voyage and shipwreck, but Pauline mythology is rooted in religious views. It is held that St Publius converted to Christianity after his father was cured of fever and dysentery by St Paul, however the Bible does not mention that St Publius ever converted.